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Gibson writes: "Today, politicians are happily feeding a complicit media a made-up story about a 'fiscal cliff' and a nation that is too broke to pay the bills. Don't believe the hype."

Screenshot from the movie 'Wag the Dog.' (photo: New Line Cinema)
Screenshot from the movie 'Wag the Dog.' (photo: New Line Cinema)


They're Wagging the Dog

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

27 December 12

 

he entire premise of the 1990s movie "Wag the Dog" was a few powerful elites feeding a complicit media a made-up story about a war in Albania to distract from a president involved in a child-sex scandal. Today, politicians are happily feeding a complicit media a made-up story about a "fiscal cliff" and a nation that is too broke to pay the bills. Don't believe the hype.

The hype is definitely chugging along full-steam. In "Wag the Dog," the media manipulators hired by the government brought in a choir to record a patriotic song to rally Americans behind the fake war effort. They even found an ex-con to play the part of the returning war hero held captive behind enemy lines, and expertly staged a scene where an actress played an Albanian refugee running away from manufactured gunfire. In this new version, there's a fake grassroots effort (re: astroturf) dubbed "Fix the Debt," which uses social media to push out photos of everyday, red-blooded, by-God-Americans complete with quotes about how fixing the debt should be at the top of the agenda. The end goal of this effort is to convince real Americans that the debt, which they allege is caused by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is the one problem that needs fixing before anything else. While everyday Americans have all but laughed Fix the Debt out of the room, Congress has bought it hook, line and sinker.

What Fix the Debt doesn't tell you is that it's a campaign financed and staffed by war profiteers who don't want to lose their multi-billion dollar Pentagon contracts. 38 of Fix the Debt's leaders have ties to 43 companies with more than $43 billion in defense contracts. And while the CEOs who make up the Fix the Debt campaign are all gung-ho about cutting healthcare and benefits, Fix the Debt oddly never mentions the fact that the United States spends more on its military than the next 26 biggest military

spenders combined. Or that most of our debt was made possible when President Bush used China's credit card to wage two wars that have cost us over a trillion dollars and counting. Or that we've doubled defense spending since 2001 and are showing no signs of slowing down.

At the end of "Wag the Dog," the president easily won re-election as the news about his sex scandal was drowned out in the cacophony of news about the made-up war and the made-up war hero. And while we've all been hearing non-stop about the "fiscal cliff" and how our budgetary woes can only be solved through tax hikes or gutting Social Security, the Senate unanimously approved a whopping $631 billion Pentagon budget in early December. The fact that Republicans and some Democrats are still hell-bent on telling us there's a budgetary crisis that can only be averted by cutting New Deal and Great Society programs shows that their true allegiance lies not with their constituents, but with the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower, a former 5-star general, warned us about more than 50 years ago.

It remains to be seen whether or not the backbone of progressivism will be sacrificed in this manufactured "fiscal cliff" fiasco. But nonetheless, we have, as a nation, let ourselves be thoroughly played by the politicians, the corporations and the media so they can keep their goodies. To tell the truth, the history books must document how easily manipulated people can be when enough fear has been injected into the conversation.



Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+100 # Barbara K 2012-12-27 12:03
Thanks, that has been my sentiment all along too. If they have money to toss around for wars, they have money to take care of our citizens and should be doing that. Let them stop the subsidies they waste on the oil companies. As long as they have money to waste on them, they can take care of the citizens. After all taking care of the citizens is the Number One job of the government. Someone needs to wake up the Republicants to that fact. They are not there for enriching the rich. Take care of us, the citizens. The Rs have it all backwards, as they are.
 
 
+52 # giraffee2012 2012-12-27 15:53
Quoting Barbara K:
Thanks, that has been my sentiment all along too. If they have money to toss around for wars, they have money to take care of our citizens and should be doing that. Let them stop the subsidies they waste on the oil companies. As long as they have money to waste on them, they can take care of the citizens. After all taking care of the citizens is the Number One job of the government. Someone needs to wake up the Republicants to that fact. They are not there for enriching the rich. Take care of us, the citizens. The Rs have it all backwards, as they are.

Agree PLUS it's our tax money they are using to take care of the 1% - when our tax money SHOULD BE (MUST BE) used to take care of the 99%. Fix the infrastructure and reward businesses who create jobs in the USA (not overseas) Apple creates jobs overseas and with ALL their profit should not reap one cent in tax benefits. (The overseas job creators get financial benefits both ways = cheap labor and no inport fees when they sell the cheap products in the USA.)

WAKE UP and tell your R Congress people "WE KNOW THE TRUTH" - and vote them OUT ASAP
 
 
+3 # giraffee2012 2012-12-30 23:49
I just read on RSN that when we go over the cliff -- those unemployment checks that have kept some in their houses - will effectively allow the bank-robbers to take more houses and leave more neighborhoods barren -- and immediate negative effect on our economy.

We need to get the $$ out of politics by any means possible -

Scalia/Thomas etc allowed foreigners to influence our elections - with Citizen's United in 2010. These Supremes must be taken down by any means possible and real justices put into the Supreme Court
 
 
-22 # edge 2012-12-27 19:22
OK, you Savior Obama wants to increase the tax RATE!

If Romney has no wage income then you might as well raise it to 100% and it still won't change what he pays...Or Warren Buffet either!

The Rate on the 1%'ers is a scam to protect the very rich, so get of your stupid "R" rant and have Obama propose REAL reform!
 
 
+2 # giraffee2012 2012-12-30 23:50
Edge - get informed before you post crap on this web site. I hope you either have millions or lose your house along with a lot of other people.
 
 
+100 # wherefore 2012-12-27 12:04
It is a bluff, not a cliff.
 
 
+30 # SHK 2012-12-27 16:36
Quoting wherefore:
It is a bluff, not a cliff.

Love it!! Make this our motto and let's go viral with this message! Put it up everywhere and send it to everyone we know! It says it all!!!
 
 
+58 # barkingcarpet 2012-12-27 12:30
Today's politicians are mostly corrupt partisan creeps more interested in personal profits and agendas than in anything resembling public "service."
It is up to WE, the people, to sharpen our pitchforks, and take back our whirled from the abyss of intolerance and stupidity. Vote with every waking $ folks.
ANY future life WILL thank us, and time is passing.
 
 
+42 # jwb110 2012-12-27 13:07
Thanks for telling the truth about this BS.
 
 
+79 # Elroys 2012-12-27 13:32
Let's see:
1. From Reagan through Bush 2, virtually all national debt was created by Republican Presidents - Obama was left a huge mess by Bush (a Repub who squandered a projected $5T surplus and left a $5T debt instead (a $10T swing) and had to spend / invest trillions to prevent a complete collapse.
2. Military budget - we can cut in 1/2 over 10 years, easily
3. Another elephant in the room - Health Care - we don't have real health CARE - we have health INSURANCE. Go to single payer and we'll save $600-750B per YEAR.

4. Raise taxes on income over $250K / year, with a 50% tax on incomes over $1mm for the next 10 years
5. End subsidies to fossil fuels, Pharma, Agribusiness - tens of billions per year and more.

6. Institute a performance-bas ed compensation system in government (including Congress) - meaning, institute accountability in government
7. Put big time financial crooks in jail for a long time - those who crashed the system, took our money, and ran (Americans know how corrupt the system is)

These are some of the real major issues we need to deal with. The fiscal-"cliff" is a lie to create fear and move our eyes off the real ball. When are we going to get real?

The BS is stunning in our nation and the people are being ripped off royally by the elite in the financial, corporate and political world. America - wake up or suffer the coming consequences.
 
 
-4 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-12-27 17:02
Elioth, I applaud almost all you say, but I would remind you that in the 2009-2010 period, Obama had a Democratic controlled Congress that he encouraged to extend the Bush tax cuts. Kindly tell me why ending those buts are so essential now but were not just two years ago. Obama can't tell me -- or anyway he won't.
 
 
+18 # Hirspray 2012-12-27 17:36
As I recall Obama wanted to extend unemployment insurance and the R's held out. Weak as I think Obama is, I think he was worried that the unemployment was too high, too many people would lose benefits just before Christmas and that was too cruel. It also was a form of stimulus. Many thought getting the taxes back was the way to go but the results would take longer to kick in. I thought he caved, but he did so more humanely than I would have if it had been me.
 
 
-7 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-12-28 11:01
You recall wrong.
 
 
+6 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 08:42
The myth that Obama had a "controlled" Congress when Blue Dog Depublican Red Staters were targeted by preTea organizers for primary and general opposition via US CofC, NRA and Koch/Rove operatives is a red 'herring' - somewhat fishy!
 
 
+3 # 666 2012-12-28 06:47
I'd suggest that those making less than $100k/year pay NO income taxes. And go back to 70%-90% rates at the top (at least about $1m).
 
 
+5 # giraffee2012 2012-12-28 15:13
When Reagan closed most of the Insane Asylums the inmates (and their off-spring) became the Rethugbagican party!

Talking about them as sane people is a waste of time. We'll slide off and many will not know why.

What matters is what Congress passes on 1/3/2013 - to save what the last 4 years has recovered from the Bush/Cheney credit card purchases (2 wars, do-nut hole, to name a few)

Remember to vote in 2014 so we do NOT have a repeat of 2010!

Vote the thugs out
 
 
+32 # DaveM 2012-12-27 13:33
We have also had the unfortunately convenient massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. It has allowed any number of politicians and organizations to call for "bold action" (not a bad idea, to be sure) while distracting significantly from what, if anything, they plan to do about the nation's debt.

Very sad that a smokescreen has been built using the bodies of innocent children.
 
 
-5 # ericlipps 2012-12-27 16:51
Quoting DaveM:
We have also had the unfortunately convenient massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. It has allowed any number of politicians and organizations to call for "bold action" (not a bad idea, to be sure) while distracting significantly from what, if anything, they plan to do about the nation's debt.

Very sad that a smokescreen has been built using the bodies of innocent children.

I do hope you're not suggesting that someone in the government somehow was responsible for Newtown. Surely even the "tea party" wouldn't sink that low.
 
 
+34 # Janice 2012-12-27 13:53
The Republicans in congress should be impeached. Does anyone out there know what the process is?
 
 
+11 # photonracer 2012-12-27 17:07
JANICE! Don't wait for someone to spoon feed you information about the impeachment process. You obviously have a computer, research. Get active, buy a pitchfork and march in the street. BTW not only Republicans need impeached. I agree a fresh start is needed. Good hunting and know you are not alone.
 
 
+6 # Hirspray 2012-12-27 17:38
It starts in the House of Representatives !, that won't happen.
 
 
+6 # Merschrod 2012-12-27 19:54
I like the self-impeachmen t option - sort of like self-deportatio n. One can dream of congress critters jumping off the gravey train, but it will not happen.
 
 
+14 # reiverpacific 2012-12-27 16:30
This is the main headline on the BBC web-page (my home page) today. "US HEADING OVER FISCAL CLIFF"
The US appears to be heading over the "fiscal cliff", the Democratic US Senate leader says, as the House prepares a last-minute return to Washington"..
In this case it seems even that the Beeb's generally impartial and well-informed experts and columnists have bought into the Rethug' fear-monger's vaguely but heavily publicized threat.
All the more level. Liberal economists and talking heads I've listened to are blithely saying "let's go over".
Now, I'm an economic dim-bulb of the most h'iggerant kind (it bores the shit outa me mostly- always did) but I've also heard the word "risks" used almost airily and offhandedly by these more Liberal US econo-types and it seems to me en précis, that the "Risks" exist entirely on the grassroots side of the ledger.
I mean, these overstuffed mattresses we call the super-rich, their shills, quislings, lobbyists AND the Military who plunder and pollute the Planet on their behalf, are going to be all right whatever happens innit?
I'm willing to educated on this BTW; just a simpleton's view of these things.
 
 
+3 # 666 2012-12-28 06:49
lets just get over it (the cliff) - I think many will realize it's like 12/21/12...
 
 
+5 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 09:52
The headline OUGHT to be 'US SIDLING UP TO FISCAL BLUFF'. Our 'leaders' are running back in time for a New Year's, a cork-popping party fueled and funded by the media (who love a good fight and lots of political advertising money), the US Chamber of Commerce, corporate government contractors and Wall Street/lobbyist folks who understand what is at stake.

If the sequestration takes place there are a number of interesting (to me)things that should happen:
1) Government Revenue will increase and expenditure will drop,
2] Policies attending new future tax reductions will be more clearly defined with respect to beneficiaries (affluent or middle class),
3) Policies attending future budget increases could be more openly debated,
4) Any approved 'deficit' expenditures could be coupled with AUTOMATIC Debt Ceiling increases, and
5) War supporting expenditures MIGHT be more specifically defined and justified.

The monied elite who benefit from vast, deficit producing, revenue supported government expenditures (especially the outsourced, privatized, highly profitable contract parts) know that they will suffer significantly if the BLUFF is called.

Their "compromise" is not going to change things MUCH for the poor, ill, or under- and unemployed. Slightly higher taxes (possibly 3-10 cents per hour on WalMart and McDonald employees) doesn't compare to the billions in cash flow they'll lose.

"Let them eat cake."
 
 
+2 # MidwestDick 2012-12-30 10:09
The first bad thing that happens is -- all those who have been unemployed for more than their state's time limit (about 26 weeks) will lose their benefits.
 
 
+7 # SHK 2012-12-27 16:48
Congress is made up of both houses and the Senate has more Dems than Reps. So Dems are not blameless in all this. Where does that leave us? It shows we have no real representation in the Congress at all--forget the White House.
 
 
+6 # flippancy 2012-12-28 04:47
Quoting SHK:
Congress is made up of both houses and the Senate has more Dems than Reps. So Dems are not blameless in all this. Where does that leave us? It shows we have no real representation in the Congress at all--forget the White House.


That might be true except that nothing passes the Senate in these days of Republican filibustering on a wholesale basis.
 
 
+11 # austxjr 2012-12-27 17:52
Pretty good article, but it got one thing terribly wrong. Our taxes are not used to "fund" the government (it doesn't need them) and we don't have to "borrow" from China, ourselves or anyone else for the goverment to operate and spend. Really, its true. It is because our government has a fiat monetary system. We also are not hostage to interest rates (they don't matter to the government unless we want them to because remember, we make the money) nor do we need rating agencies.

If you don't believe it let me ask you a question. If you had a printing press or a mint in your basement or a money tree in the back yard would you have to cash your paychecks to buy stuff and pay your bills? No, of course not. Would you have to borrow from the bank? No, and the interest rates wouldn't matter to you nor would you care about your credit score (which should be perfect anyway since you can ALWAYS pay your bills). Same with the U.S. Government. Remember it creates/prints/ mints the money.

Now if we actally understand how the monetary system works at a very basic level we can actually talk about why the deficit(s) and national debt don't matter very much and don't matter for any of the reasons that people say they do.
 
 
+6 # AUCHMANNOCH 2012-12-27 20:02
"Now if we actually understand how the monetary system works at a very basic level we can actually talk about why the deficit(s) and national debt don't matter very much and don't matter for any of the reasons that people say they do."

In America's case I believe austxjr is generally correct. At the end of the day the U.S.A. can simply print its own money and borrow vast amounts from China by way of guaranteed American Bonds at low interest rates. This situation is truly a giant Ponzi scheme and like any Ponzi scheme it will only end when/if the rest of the investor world, the petroleum Arab countries, China, Europe lose faith and confidence in America and there is a credible shout of "look , the Emperor has no clothes!" Meanwhile - why do the rich of the world park their money in America?

Because the U.S. can and will print money as needed, because the world treats the American dollar as the worlds reserve currency as there currently is no viable alternative, because America is still the worlds largest economy, I could go on but at the end of the day the main reason is because the world views the American PEOPLE (the backstop of the dollar) as innovative, hard working, well educated with few unions,worker benefits and conditions and an increasingly poorly paid workforce ruled by a powerful business, banking and military elite who own the levers of government. What better place to park your cash?
 
 
+3 # balconesfalk 2012-12-30 13:22
Yes dear austxjr,
But it is the Federal Reserve that creates/prints/ mints the money. The government doesn't own or operate the Federal Reserve. That is one of the buck passing gotcha's about the American capitalist form of government. So is gerrymandered representative districts and A.L.E.C. that detrimentally effects the conduct of democracy in our country.
 
 
+13 # treadlightly 2012-12-27 21:25
Just checked the budget breakdown for Homeland Security alone..Wanna take a wild guess?...I'll tell you how many people could be making $100,000 each for this "Homeland Security" we are all enjoying. Then you do the rest of the math. Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand people could making that salary. Of course I didn't include the cost of armored cars or drones or machine guns or bullets or whatever it costs to spy on the rest of us. I guess they need a special building to operate out of too so we'll deduct that. So maybe they could get by on just $46,000,000,000 .00 instead of the allotted 46.9 Billion. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
 
 
+13 # treadlightly 2012-12-27 22:37
President Eisenhower said in his farewell address. (This is the last half)

We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. WE SHOULD TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. Only an ALERT and KNOWLEDGEABLE CITIZENRY can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
 
 
+9 # Depressionborn 2012-12-28 08:32
Think of how stupid the average American is and realize that half are stupider then that.
 
 
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2012-12-28 08:51
And how certain each of us is that we are correct in what we think we think.
 
 
+7 # Big Jake 2012-12-28 09:05
A most accurate piece. Wag the Dog is in full bloom. And we seem to have bought it.
Although this movement to impoverish America had its beginnings in earnest in the post WW11 era, it sustained power push came with Reagan, who never seemed to have a clue. It has been moving steadily but surely. This contrived fiscal cliff is truly a justification to move another group of us into the have-not status. We have failed to observe this a a society, chosing to keep our blinders on as long as it is not us that is struggling. The economic conditions at play here create a societal greed. If we don't get ahead, we will be behind and if we have to step on our neighbor, so be it.
The challenge is are we capable of saying enought before it is too late. It is our country not theirs. Is it worth reclaiming?
 
 
+5 # treadlightly 2012-12-28 11:43
as long as it is not us that is struggling.

That is the dividing line should matters spin completely out of control. I have tried to imagine what a civil war might look like. I spy on the right via their FB pages. They are spouting armed revolution. They seem to have decided that any attempt to control their gun ownership is unacceptable. I fear that issue may be the final breaking point. Stay safe. Take care.
 
 
+4 # Marxian 2012-12-30 10:18
Speaking of debt, ask yourself how much of it is created by the interest payments on the money supply created by the Federal Reserve (a group of private banksters who have control of our money supply-not a branch of government)? Reject the "main-scream" BS media and think for yourself. We are the working class victims of a dysfunctional government that serves a ruling plutocracy, and we are condemned by this system to eternal debt so they will have ever increasing profits. It's sheer madness to continue this.
 
 
+4 # balconesfalk 2012-12-30 14:05
Right you are, Marxian. However far too many of our citizens are further condemned to homelessness, job-lessness and poverty. The working class is far ahead of the non-working class when it comes to enjoying life as productive tax paying individuals with enough to eat, a roof over their heads and a car for coming to and from work. That is the substance of what makes the middle class.
Homeless veterans on street corners begging for support and unheralded numbers of people dying of the cold for lack of money for fuel oil--these are the victims of the cruelty of capitalism. No one speaks out on their behalf but they were citizens. Slashing social service funding multiplies the numbers of the people effected. Abject poverty is a matter of life and death.
 

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